Broccoli and spinach Pesto

Homemade pesto is such a simple thing to make but added to certain foods can make your taste buds single with delight. They can be made with just a handful of ingredients. Ideally, you will need a food processor or a high-power blender, They can be made by hand using a pestle and mortar but it does make it labour intensive and the results are not as smooth.

If you have a nut allergy then you can make this recipe nut-free. You can do this either by

  • Using pumpkin or hemp seeds


  • By leaving them out altogether and adding another 20g of broccoli.

I love the creamy texture nuts bring to pesto and they also thicken it. You can use other nuts and seeds such as

  • Walnuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • skinned almonds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Broccoli pesto ingredients

Broccoli, well you are making broccoli pesto. You need just the florets and not the stalks, I hate to waste food, so I like to peel the tougher outer skin and slice finely to use in stir-fries.

Garlic The amount you use is up to personal taste, I add 3 to this recipe.

Fresh Lemon Juice and zest, this add a lovely zing and freshness

Fresh herbs for freshness, I love basil but you could easily use a different herb such as parsley or coriander

Olive oil needs to be extra virgin olive oil, this brings all those delicious ingredients together. The right olive oil is what perfects the sauce.

Vegan cheese. There are a few vegan kinds of parmesan cheese that I think works extremely well. These are Violife Prosociano and Green Valley Parveggio. Vegan cheese is quite expensive, bring on Nutritional yeast or Nooch. Every vegan household normally has a container of this. It gives dishes that umami cheesy flavour without going down the vegan cheese route.

To me, pesto is not just for pasta, although my go-to comfort food is a bowl of pasta with some gorgeous pesto stirred through. I also use it in

  • Mixed with some vegan mayonnaise for a pasta salad
  • Spread on pizza instead of tomato sauce
  • Tossed through a bowl of new warm potatoes
  • As a dressing for a tray of roasted vegetables
  • A large spoonful is stirred through a vegan cheese sauce to make a flavourful Mac & cheese

Broccoli and spinach Pesto

  • Preparation Time
  • Makes Approximately 6-8 Servings

Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian


  • 180 g of broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup of baby spinach leaves
  • 3-4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 85 g of vegan parmesan cheese or 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 160 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp of freshly grated lemon zest
  • 55 ml of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp of red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of pine nuts
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Approximately 100 ml of cold water


  1. Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to a boil and have a small bowl of ice on one side.
  2. Place the broccoli carefully into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute then remove from the water with a slotted spoon and plunge it into the bowl of ice and leave for 2 minutes. This step is important as it stops the broccoli cooking any further. Remove and place onto some kitchen roll and pat dry.
  3. Next in a food processor or blender place the dry broccoli, lemon zest and juice, pine nuts, basil, chilli flakes if using, cheese and garlic. Blend until broken down.
  4. Slowly add the oil to your food processor, this helps emulsify the sauce and keep the oil from separating. You may not need to add any water, this is up to you how thick you like your pesto. Blend until smooth and creamy and season to taste.
  5. Decant from the blender into a bowl.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days, alternatively I like to fill ice cube trays with the pesto and freeze until solid. Once frozen I pop them out into sealed freezer bags, this way they will be good for up to 6 months. I make a lot of different flavoured pesto so I have to make sure I label my bags.

This is so handy just to be able to grab as much as you need for each recipe.

If you like this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Twitter as @veganalchemist1 or my Facebook page I love seeing your versions of my recipes. Or I would love to hear your comments.

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